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Candidate Clinton: The Girl Can't Help it

By,
 Wendy Kaminer

        Hillary Clinton has a new excuse for continuing a campaign that is most likely doomed and clearly destructive: genetic determinism: “ I’ve come to believe that hard work, determination and resiliency are encoded in our DNA,” she declared, speaking to a group of female supporters in West Virginia, the New York Times reports.  “We know that we have the ‘worry’ gene. We know we have the ‘put your coat on because it’s cold outside’ gene.  But we also have the ‘stand up and fight for what you believe in’ gene.’ ”
   
        It’s hardly surprising to hear Clinton appealing to female chauvinism, given the demographics of the race.  (According to the Times, her remarks “brought thunderous applause.”)  And if she is a feminist, she would not be the first caught joining the majority of people who believe that biology is destiny, instead of fighting them.  The feminist movement has always been divided over theories or biases about natural cognitive and characterological sexual differences.  But it is discouraging to hear an intelligent woman like Hillary Clinton frame a tribute to femininity quite so stupidly.  Maybe her anti-intellectualism is genuine, after all, but I doubt she really believes that women have a “worry” or “fight” gene, anymore than men have a “science” gene, (and any feminists who applaud Clinton’s remarks should refrain from criticizing the speculations about men’s superior scientific abilities that got former Harvard President Larry Summers into so much trouble.)  Clinton has often characterized criticisms of her conduct as sexist, but a woman who exploits stereotypes of femininity shouldn’t complain about being disadvantaged by them.


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